Turks Fall to the Braves 2-1

Written By Bennett Colin
Broadcasting Intern

The Harrisonburg Turks fell to the Staunton Braves 2-1 in their season opener as pitching stole the show on a chilly June night. The two squads combined to give up just two earned runs in 10 ⅔ innings, while striking out 25 batters.

With the pitching stifling each team’s bats, the Turks and Braves entered the 10th inning tied 1-1. The Turks used two, one-out singles from Cade Bullinger and Tyler Dofflemyer to start a rally. A diving stop from Staunton’s third baseman Richard Miller on Ty Andrus’ hard-hit grounder recorded the second out of the inning, but Andrus stole second base just two pitches later to put a pair of Turks in scoring a position for Brenton Sanders. The Georgia Tech product went 2-5 on the day with an RBI double, but he became the game’s 23rd strikeout victim in the 10th as the Turks left two runners on board.

The Braves took advantage of the Turks’ inability to capitalize in the bottom half of the frame. After two strikeouts bookended a pair of walks, Staunton’s Jay Charleston headed to the plate with runners on first and second. Charleston fell behind 1-2 in the count, but roped a single to left to drive in the winning run from second.

Although the Turks lost, their pitching served as a sign of encouragement for Harrisonburg faithful. Rhett Willis, a rising senior at Florida Tech, took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before finally allowing a base knock to Staunton’s Henry Kreienbaum. Willis received a no-decision in the matchup after a Turks error led to the game-tying run crossing the plate in the bottom of the sixth. He fired seven strikeouts across 5 ⅔ innings and only allowed Kreienbaum to record a hit.

Willis was replaced in the sixth by Zak Devermann, a seldom used rising junior at the University of Illinois. Devermann, looking to gain valuable experience in the Valley League, delivered with 2 ⅓ innings pitched, while allowing just one hit and striking out five. Combined with rising junior pitcher Jacob Ramos, the three Turks threw 9 ⅔ innings, while allowing just three hits, two runs and six walks. The trio fanned 13 Braves in the loss.

Andrus was another a bright spot for the Turks. The speedy outfielder from Wingate smacked the first pitch of the season into the right field corner and cruised into third for a leadoff triple. Sanders drove him in with a double two pitches later.

Andrus’ strong play didn’t stop at the plate, as the rising senior made a noteworthy catch in center as he covered a significant amount of ground to catch a blooper before it hit the grass. He also made his mark on the basepaths as he singled in the top of the eighth and then used a minor bobble in the outfield to sprint over to second.

The Turks will hope to lean on Andrus and more solid pitching when they open the home slate on Sunday against the Waynesboro Generals. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Park.